Very few of us were unaffected by the Covid lockdowns that have been with us for more than a year now. Some, like restaurant owners and their staff members, were unfortunately not able to operate. Others were more fortunate in that they could work from home.
Now that many businesses have seen that working from home has several benefits, many people are given the leeway by their employers to continue working from home. This new normal has led me to think about how we can be at our most productive when working from home, and also what pitfalls we should look out for.
- Draw the lines
Most of us who work from home already know the three biggest threats: the fridge, the phone, and the television. It is therefore vitally important to design a workday plan and banish these distractions from your professional hours, apart from your scheduled breaks. The other distraction you need to manage is the very tool you use to make your money – your computer. Surfing the web or playing games can easily creep into your routine if you don’t make a clear effort to manage them.
2. Have an “office“
It is important to keep the work and leisure activities separated in your mind. Working on your laptop in your bed is almost certainly going to lead to poor productivity. Create a space in your home where that is for work only. Others will also know not to bother you when you are in your work zone.
3. Create rituals
Since you are no longer on the office clock, one of the biggest challenges to working from home is to actually get started. Many of us have realized that just getting to our workspace and sitting down is more of a challenge than we could have anticipated. Our mornings are filled with children, dishes, laundry, and a whole host of other things that require our attention and before we know it, we started our workday an hour late and immediately we are under pressure. Instead, make a list of the things that cannot wait (like dropping the kids off at school) and get those done. Then sprinkle the other stuff in during the course of the day when you take a mini break. But the most important thing is to start on time, even if it is just answering that first email.
One of the best ways to ensure that you start your day on time is to prepare the day before. Make planning for the next day the last thing you do every day. If you work an eight-hour day, for instance, write down the tasks you want to complete the next day to fill up the required eight hours, leaving time for things like answering emails and making phone calls. When you know you have a lot to do the next day, there will be an incentive for you to get started as early as possible. And that’s half the battle.